As Roger Waters tours the US, I’ll stay home

Roger Waters embarks on a number of prominent American concerts next week.

ROGER WATERS performs at Staples Center in Los Angeles in June. (photo credit: REUTERS)
ROGER WATERS performs at Staples Center in Los Angeles in June.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
While there is no doubt Waters is a brilliant songwriter and was an integral part of Pink Floyd, I will again abstain from attending. I love live rock music, in fact I’ve seen over 500 rock bands perform live in the past four decades. And while Pink Floyd was an integral part of my music collection, I cannot bring myself to watch Waters perform.
While many will argue that Waters’ vapid but very public support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement stems from a desire for human rights and social justice, it has become apparent over the years that Floyd’s former frontman simply holds Jews, not just those who are Israeli citizens, in contempt.
I know of many in the academic community who are critical of Israel’s government and even support aspects of BDS, yet are not antisemitic. While I may believe that many of them are sorely misguided in their interpretation of history and policies in the Middle East, I know that their intentions for peaceful coexistence are genuine. Additionally, it pains me that there exist extreme right-wing movements in Israel, such as La Familia, that bring shame to the vast majority of Israelis and global Jewish citizens who want nothing more but peace with their Palestinian and Arab neighbors. Waters’ actions and statements, however, which feature traditional antisemitic tropes such as those referring to a global Jewish conspiracy and the depiction of the Star of David in tandem with pigs, is contraindicative of someone who is merely against Israeli government policy.
In fact, Waters stated in the magazine Counterpunch, “The Jewish lobby is extraordinarily powerful here and particularly in the industry that I work in, the music industry and in rock’n roll as they say. I promise you, naming no names, I’ve spoken to people who are terrified that if they stand shoulder to shoulder with me they are going to get f*****.”
In that one statement Waters manages to integrate the “Jewish lobby” with “Jewish control of industry” and “fear of reprisals for speaking out against the Jews.” It’s as if Waters was quoting directly from the infamous propaganda text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was created as a tool to scapegoat “The Jewish Enemy” in early 20th century Europe.
It is rather ironic that Waters, who penned the classic anthem “Another Brick in the Wall,” which features the line “we don’t need no thought control,” is such a fervent supporter of the BDS movement. The BDS movement, in arts and academia, is about suppressing the free exchange of ideas and degrading the ability to share new knowledge with the world. In fact, as Waters spray-paints “we don’t need no thought control” on a separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank, Palestinian children are subjected to... well...
thought control.
In fact, Palestinian children have been learning from teaching materials that both demonize the Jewish People and erase Jewish history at sites like the Western Wall. Palestinian students are subjected to hateful propaganda that views Jews as the enemy and as deserving of violent death. It’s important to note that, in clear evidence against claims by many BDS supporters, the hate rhetoric is not merely anti-Zionist or anti-Israeli, but distinctly anti-Jewish.
In fact, these schools go as far as to praise Islamic State (ISIS), as noted during 2016’s American legislative push to withhold funding to UN-funded schools.
Young Palestinian children are taught time and time again to hate Jews and work toward their annihilation.
This is a well-documented fact that Waters, who named his latest foray across the US “The Us and Them Tour,” ignores repeatedly.
Let’s be clear, I’m not calling for a boycott of Waters’ tour or for his tour dates to be canceled. In the US, of course, we have the right to say what we wish and perform as we desire. The sad irony here though is that as Waters uses this freedom to espouse his hatred of Jews, Palestinians living under Hamas and PA control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not allowed such freedom.
In fact, as The Economist noted in 2016, Palestinian authorities have beaten, tortured and censored Palestinian journalists who have written pieces critical of Hamas and Fatah.
Attacks on freedoms are not limited to members of the press but include those in the LGBT community, Christians and anyone who dares speak out against the Palestinian leadership.
Waters, of course, has chosen to play in Russia in recent years, a nation that has banned and expelled many artists for “blasphemy” and related “infractions,” such as Poland’s Behemoth, who were detained and imprisoned four dates into their planned 13-date tour of the country in 2014.
Waters also played Turkey in 2013, a nation featuring a far-right government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has spread terror and fear among his own people, not to mention the Kurds, who have been subject to persecution for decades.
So while Waters enjoys his artistic freedom here in the US and uses his ability to speak freely in a manner that even further rouses global antisemitism, the Palestinians he purports to care about will continue to be wedged in a never-ending struggle, championed not by leaders of true social justice and those seeking a path for peaceful coexistence, but rather hard-left agitators who have worked feverishly against the continuous existence of Jewish global citizens.
I’ll stay home.
The author is associate professor of business, organizations and society at Franklin and Marshall College in the United States.